Afghanistan — Insurgents Show Desperation in Afghanistan, General Says

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2010 — Although insur­gents con­tin­ue to threat­en progress in Afghanistan, their efforts are becom­ing increas­ing­ly des­per­ate, the top U.S. mil­i­tary com­man­der in East­ern Afghanistan said today.

Army Maj. Gen. John F. Camp­bell, com­man­der of U.S. and inter­na­tion­al forces in Region­al Com­mand-East and Com­bined Joint Task Force 101, as well as the 101st Air­borne Divi­sion, under­scored the recent des­per­ate actions of mil­i­tant groups, such as the Haqqani net­work, cit­ing their tar­get­ing of Afghan civil­ians.

The insur­gents have sim­ply declared all-out war on inno­cent Afghan civil­ians, Camp­bell told Pen­ta­gon reporters dur­ing a video news con­fer­ence.

“They … have gone out recent­ly and pub­licly said attack civil­ians, women and chil­dren that are work­ing with the coali­tion forces and the Afghan nation­al secu­ri­ty forces,” Camp­bell said, not­ing the Haqqani ter­ror­ist net­work in par­tic­u­lar “is get­ting a lit­tle bit des­per­ate.”

The Haqqani net­work employed a female sui­cide bomber in Kunar province just two weeks ago, the gen­er­al said.

The insur­gents, Camp­bell said, are “real­ly dis­grac­ing the Mus­lim cul­ture here.” Male insur­gents, he added, have adopt­ed the tac­tic of wear­ing burqas, which are tra­di­tion­al Mus­lim out­er gar­ments meant to hide the face and body of women while in pub­lic.

“It’s some­thing we had­n’t seen in years past,” the gen­er­al said.

Although insur­gents have become more cre­ative in their tac­tics, the effec­tive­ness of their attacks has decreased, Camp­bell said. Though the num­ber of insur­gent attacks since Jan­u­ary has risen 12 per­cent in East­ern Afghanistan, com­pared to the same peri­od last year, he said, the effec­tive­ness of those attacks is down 6 per­cent.

“Because of the great aggres­sive oper­a­tions by the coali­tion forces and by our Afghan coun­ter­parts, many times where we would have expect­ed a con­tin­u­ous bat­tle, [ene­my fight­ers] did not have the required ammu­ni­tion, they did not have the spir­it or the guts to con­tin­ue that fight, and it is sort of a ‘hit-and-run,’ ” Camp­bell explained.

Coali­tion forces in Afghanistan expect­ed a spike in attack lev­els, Camp­bell said, as insur­gents attempt to counter the increased U.S. mil­i­tary foot­print. And, expe­ri­ence has shown that fight­ing in Afghanistan increas­es dra­mat­i­cal­ly in the sum­mer, he added.

An addi­tion­al Army brigade – about 3,500 troops – is expect­ed to aug­ment Campbell’s forces in August, he said. It will take some time, he added, before the impact of the troop surge can be mea­sured.

“We know that we’ll have a tough sum­mer as we bring in addi­tion­al forces,” Camp­bell said. “The insur­gents will not let us bring in addi­tion­al forces with­out try­ing to make a state­ment.”

That state­ment, Camp­bell not­ed, has come at the cost of Afghan civil­ians’ lives. Insur­gents con­tin­ue to tar­get inno­cent civil­ians, he said, as a means of intim­i­dat­ing them to reject the Afghan gov­ern­ment and its coali­tion part­ners.

Camp­bell also not­ed that in the past six months no inno­cent civil­ians were killed by NATO aer­i­al bomb­ings.

“I can’t stress this enough,” Camp­bell said. “[Insur­gents] have real­ly moved toward attack­ing the Afghan peo­ple. They declared that they had to do that, and that just shows an act of des­per­a­tion.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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